The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has trained social workers from the Kwara State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development to care for vulnerable children in the state.
The Two-Day workshop focused on Child Protection, Reunification and Community Reintegration for Children Released from the Borstal Training Institute (BTI), Ilorin, Kwara State.
The training was also attended by other stakeholders in the state including the officials of the BTI, the Gender Unit of Nigeria Police Force and officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS).
The UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Mrs Nkiru Maduechesi said the training was aimed at enhancing the capacity of social workers to enable them effectively provide case management and to support the community reintegration for the children.
Maduechesi said the training is part of the three-year European Union (EU) supported access to justice programme for children on the move and other vulnerable children in Nigeria.
Also, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist, Dr Wilfred Mamah advised that the Kwara State’s Child Rights Law 2007 should be properly utilised to protect and safeguard the interest of children and secure a better future for them.
Dr Mamah highlighted key overriding principles of best interest of the child including right to life, survival and development, non discrimination, right to be heard and prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment. He stated that these principles are critical in caring for children.
The Permanent Secretary, Kwara State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development (MWSD), Hajia Afusat Nike Ibrahim commended UNICEF for its intervention in the state.
Ibrahim noted that some of the children released from Borstal were facing challenges because their families were not willing to receive them. She said about 50 parents have written to the ministry to request that the released children should remain with government.
The Permanent Secretary said the focus now is how to cater for the freed children from Borstal and ensure their welfare. She urged social workers to internalise the learning from the training and use the knowledge to provide support for vulnerable children in the state.
The Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Haliru Nababa said NCS acknowledges the efforts of UNICEF towards ensuring that child justice in Nigeria is given adequate attention, by playing a lead role in ensuring that children in custody are treated within conditions equal to international standard.
Nababa who was represented at the training by Assistant Comptroller General, CCG Daniel Odharo said the training will strengthen the institutional mechanism and capacity to provide child friendly services to children in contact with justice in line with national and international legal framework.
The NCS Controller and Welfare Desk Officer, Mr Loveday Obirian, the Controller of BTI, Ilorin, Mrs Ishola Ola, a Superintendent of Police from the Gender Unit at the Police Headquarters, Abuja, SP Lasisi Babatunde and the Director, Child Development, Kwara State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Yusuf Mariam Joke were among the stakeholders at the training.
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